Word started to spread like wildfire Thursday night that Terry Francona would not return as manager of the Boston Red Sox in 2012. Francona and the Red Sox were to meet early Friday, and the expectation was that the parties would then decide to part ways.
As it happened, Francona met with the Red Sox, and no decision was made. Not immediately. Theo Epstein said that some time would have to be taken, so that all parties could collect their thoughts.
Well, I guess enough time has been taken. Ken Rosenthal:
Francona officially gone. Statements out.
Jon Heyman suggests that Francona wanted a quick answer from the Red Sox, and now he's gotten it. It's important to note that Francona has not technically been fired - technically, he was no longer under contract. The Red Sox have simply declined to exercise their options for 2012 and 2013.
Francona, then, will explore the market for another position. And the Red Sox will explore the market for another manager. What went wrong? Obviously, there was the late-season collapse, and John Tomase talks about clubhouse discontent, poor player preparation, and even pitchers drinking on off-days. Francona could be out for any one of those reasons, any combination of those reasons, or simply because the Red Sox think it's time for a change. Or because he was tired of overseeing a three-ring circus.
Francona had managed the Red Sox since 2004, amassing a 744-552 record. He led the team to just one division title, but also two World Series championships, in 2004 and 2007. This collapse wasn't his fault - the organization has said as much - and we shouldn't expect Francona to be out of work for long, unless he wants to be.